Mike Dirnt

Michael Ryan Pritchard (born May 4, 1972) is an American musician, best known as the bassist, backing vocalist and co-founder of the American rock band Green Day. While at school, he would play “air-bass.” While pretending to pluck the strings, he made the noise, “dirnt, dirnt, dirnt,” so his schoolmates started to call him “Mike Dirnt”.

Life and career

Dirnt was born and raised in California. He was born to a native American woman and she gave him up for adoption. He has one sister, Myla. His adoptive parents divorced when he was seven years old. His mother remarried a few years later. When asked about his stepdad, he says, “We didn’t get along for years. Later on, when I hit high school, my mom moved away from us, and me and my stepdad got real close… But then he died when I was 17.”[1] Dirnt had left home when he was 17 to live out of his truck, but later rented a room in Billie Joe Armstrong’s house. He attended Salesian High School (where he briefly played with the band Helder and the Heldernauts), John Swett High School, and ended up graduating from Pinole Valley High School in 1990; Green Day went on their first tour the day after graduation.

However, Dirnt almost didn’t graduate. He had missed school because of work, and his mother wasn’t around to sign absentee forms. Two unexcused absences caused him to lose a full grade point; and at the end of senior year, he had lowly results instead of the grades he’d worked to achieve. “I took my mom aside,” Mike says. “I said, ‘This is how it is. You have so much shit going on in your life, so if once every semester you ask me if I’ve done my homework and jump all over my case, that’s not right. Have I failed yet? No. And I’m going to graduate if you stay off my back. The one time in your life you chose to have morals, and it’s going to fuck me up.”[1]

Dirnt met Billie Joe Armstrong in 1982, at age 10, in the Rodeo Elementary School cafeteria, a few months before Armstrong’s father died of Esophageal cancer. He and Armstrong first founded Sweet Children in 1987, at age 15, and they then started their current band Green Day with former Isocracy drummer John Kiffmeyer (a.k.a. Al Sobrante) and then switched to their present drummer, Tré Cool. Some years before, Dirnt moved in with Armstrong because his mother and sister moved away from Rodeo. Dirnt did not want to move away from his new-found best friend and love for music.

Green Day’s Woodstock ’94 gig was one for the history books: a huge mud fight ensued between the band and the audience. So many mud-covered fans got up on stage by the end of the set that one of the security guards mistook Dirnt for a marauding fan, tackled him, and broke several of his teeth while attempting to haul him off the stage.

He used to play a Gibson G-3 bass, but during Nimrod., Tré Cool accidentally broke it on stage trying to show fan Brendan Taylor how to spin a bass around his back. Armstrong then sent Dirnt’s bass tech out to get him a new bass. It resulted in a ’69 Fender Precision Bass. He later asked Fender to make him a custom P-Bass, and the result is modeled after the ’51 P-Bass with a ’59 Custom Shop “Hot Rod” Split-Coil Pickup, a BadAss III bridge and a thinner neck. It was released in early 2004.

Armstrong credits Dirnt as “The best bass player in the history of punk rock” in Bullet in a Bible.

Personal life

Dirnt has a daughter, Estelle Desiree, who was born in April 1997 (with first wife Anastasia) and has the nickname “Hero.” He won full custody over her in the summer of 2008 and took her to live in Oakland. In 2004, he married his then girlfriend Sarah. The two divorced that same year. On March 14, 2009, Dirnt married Brittney Cade. Their wedding was a private ceremony in Brittney’s hometown of Ojai, California. Dirnt has two children with Cade: a son, Brixton Michael, born on October 11, 2008, and a daughter, Ryan Ruby Mae, born on November 29, 2010.

Dirnt is part owner of Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, a diner in Emeryville, California.[1] The diner gets its name from a song by punk band The Clash entitled “Rudie Can’t Fail,” off of their album London Calling.

After the album Warning was released, Dirnt needed surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Songwriting and lead vocals

Although Billie Joe is Green Day’s primary songwriter, Dirnt has written “Emenius Sleepus”, “J.A.R.”, “Scumbag”, “Ha Ha You’re Dead”, and the subtrack “Nobody Likes You” from the medley “Homecoming”. He also co-wrote “Panic Song” and “Best Thing in Town” with Billie Joe. Dirnt provides lead vocals on the song “Governator”, which is featured on the “American Idiot” single, and he also sings the second part of 21st Century Breakdown’s “American Eulogy” (Modern World).

Mike Dirnt
Background information
Birth name Michael Ryan Pritchard
Also known as Mike Dirnt, Van Gough
Born May 4, 1972 (1972-05-04) (age 38)
Berkeley, California, United States
Genres Punk rock, alternative rock, rock, new wave, pop punk, garage rock
Occupations Musician, Bassist, Songwriter
Instruments Bass, guitar, vocals, drums, farfisa
Years active 1987–present
Labels Reprise Records
Lookout! Records
Adeline Records
Associated acts Green Day, The Frustrators, Screeching Weasel, The Network, Foxboro Hot Tubs
Notable instruments
Fender Precision Bass
Gibson G3
Fender Telecaster Bass

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